Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD

Started by bhodges, April 24, 2007, 11:04:11 AM

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More Wunderlich! I've listened to all six CDs now and I never tire of this man's glorious tenor. These reacordings all date from 1959 to 1964 (the tenor songs from the Klemperer Das LIed von der Erde) when he was still developing as an artist. The operatic excerpts are all sung in German, but Wunderlich is the only artist who can reconcile to to Italian and French opera sung in that languge. Yet again, I find myself wondering what he might have achieved had he lived.

Full review of the set on my blog Fritz Wunderlich – A Poet Among Tenors.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas


This is a five disc set, the first two, which I listened to today, covering opera. There are very few duplications of repertoire with the EMI set I was listening to a couple of days ago.

The first disc includes excerpts from his complete studio recordings of Die Zauberflöte and Die Entführung aus dem Serail under Böhm and Jochum and I doubt you wil ever hear Tamino or Belmonte ever sung better. Though the Italian arias are sung in German, he is an ideal Almaviva, Duke of Mantua, Don Carlo, Rodolfo and Cavaradossi.

The second disc has excerpts from Handel's Serse and Giulio Cesare. Admittedly he is singing in the wrong octave, but he reconciles me to the change, whether it be as Serse or Sesto. We also have a couple of excerpts from Gluck's Iphighénie en Tauride (also in German) and a couple of pieces from two operas otherwise unknown to me, Aimé Maillart's Les dragons de Villars and Conradin Kreutzer's Das Nachtlager in Granada, both pleasant enough, if not particularly memorable. He also sings the big tenor/baritone duet from Bizet's Les pêcherurs de perles with Hermann Prey, but the prize of this second disc ithe duet for Amina and Elvino (Prendi, l'anel ti dono) from La Sonnambula. Though he sings in German and is partnered by a rather quavery Erika Kõth, his singing has an ardently lyrical tenderness that would grace any complete recording of the opera. Too bad he never got to record it.

Discs 3 & 4 are all of Lieder with piano. We have complete recordigs of Die schöne Müllerin and Dichterliebe, as well as assorted songs by Schubert and Beethoven.. Wunderlich had only recently turned to Lieder, and he has perhaps not yet probed as deeply as some more experienced in the genre, but there is certainly much pleasure to be derived from the voice itself and his perfect diction, which in no way impedes his legato. Of the two cycles, the Schubert is the more successful, maybe because it seems to be the outpouring of a young man. He is particularly successful in the more light-hearted songs, but is not unfeeling in the sadder ones. The Schumann also has much to commend it, but he probes further in a couple of live recitals from the following year. The same could be said for some of the other songs included in his live recitals.I have no doubt that, had he lived longer, he would have become a major interpreter of Lieder.

In the final disc of this set, Wunderlich lets his hair down in more popular fare; Lara's Granada, some Neopolitan songs and German and Austrian songs by the likes of Strauss, Benatzky, Sieczynskii, Stolz and Struass. His sheer joy in the act of singing itself is thoroughly disarming. The voice and personality is absolutely stunning andi t is hard not to listen without a smile on your face. What a huge loss his early death was to the musical world.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas


The Salzburg disc was recorded at a live recital from Salzburg a couple of months before he recorded the Dichterliebe for DG. Maybe the presence of a live audience is the reason this performance is so much better than the studio, where he is a little stiff and even a little inhibited, which was certainly unusual for him. Even the rather plodding Hubert Giesen is notably more relaxed in the live performance.

The Myto disc is of the last recital he ever gave, in Edinburgh in 1966, though it only includes Dichterliebe and three encores, adding songs from the Salzburg recital to fill out the disc. The full recital has since appeared on DG and I have this on order. The Schumann cycle had evidently been developing in Wunderlich's mind and he is now throughly inside the plight of the young poet. I'd go so far as to say this is one of th great performances of the cycle. Then of course there is the glory of the voice itself, surely one of the most beautiful tenor voices to have ever graced the stage or concet platform. He finishes the recital with Schubert's great paean to music, An die Musik, receiving a rapturous reception from the audience. It was the last song he ever sang in public and a couple of weeks later he was dead, a tragic loss to the world of music.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas


When I was going through all my Schwarzkopf recital discs, I had assumed that all the contents of this set were included in the big Schwarzkopf Complete Recitals box set and hung onto it only because it included full texts and translations. Welll, not so, it would seem. The third disc does include some Grieg songs that are in the later release, but the Medtner and Sibelius songs are not available anywhere else and the Sibelius were being issued for the first time in this set (1995).

The Medtner songs are settings of Pushkin (here sung in English translation), Goethe, Eichendorff and Chamisso and the often fiendishly difficult piano parts are played by Medtner himself. The Sibelius songs are live and taken from a 1955 Finnish Radio broadcast. The pianist was Cyril Szalkiewicz. They are performed in German translation, though Schwarzkopf did sing Luonnotar around the same time in Finnish.

These are all highly valuable additions to the Schwarzkopf discography. It goes without saying that Schwarzkopf is wonderful in all these songs. The emotional range is amazing.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas


I listened to this this morning in honour of Renata. What a superbly gifted and musical singer she was.

Renata Scotto – Italian Opera Arias

Yesterday I was watching the Otello from the Met with Vickers. Absolutely devastating.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas


Impossible not to be moved when you know this was the last time Wunderlich ever appeared in public. This last concert is testament to the fine Lieder singer he would doubtless have become.

Fritz Wunderlich – The Last Recital
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas


Ralph Vaughan Williams
Four Hymns
Four Poems by Fredegond Shove
Merciless Beauty
Ten Blake Songs
On Wenlock Edge

Ian Partridge, tenor
Music Group of London

From the WAYL2N thread.

"All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff."

Roasted Swan

I am NOT a great listener to Lieder - much of the time I find the performance style just too knowing and arch for me.  But recently I encountered Christian  Gerhaher's singing and have enjoyed it a lot.  Its not just that his baritone voice is beautiful and flexible and wonderfully even across a wide range.  It strikes me that he sings with natural intelligance and musicality.  He does tell the story but without the need to point every word or idea in the text.  The result is "simple" and direct but also very sophisticated.  Of course those in the know will be familiar with all this already but for me Gerhaher has been a delightful discovery;